tv 60 Minutes CBS June 19, 2016 7:00pm-8:01pm EDT
captioning funded by cbs and ford. we go further, so you can. >> leslie stahl: do i get... i get my own, right? >> you get your own ring. >> stahl: the ring has a tiny computer chip inside a black stone which transmits a signal. when it's close to the trigger, it unlocks the gun. >> alternatively, if i were to grab it, you know, nothing happens. >> stahl: that's an example of what's known as a smart gun, that only its owner can shoot. every time a mass shooting occurs, the conversation begins again about why you can't buy one. >> steve kroft: behind these doors, in the u.s. capitol, is a book that contains one of the most secret and sensitive documents in the united states. 28 pages that could shed light on the events of 9/11.
they've been seen by very few people, and tonight you'll hear from some of them. >> i think it's implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn't speak english, could have carried out such complicated tasks without some support from within the united states. >> kroft: and you believe that the 28 pages are crucial to this. >> they are a key part. >> okay, you good? >> yeah. >> okay. three, two, one, go! >> anderson cooper: j.t. launches off the summit. champion speed rider valentin delluc quickly follows, videotaping for us with a camera on his helmet. the ride of a lifetime has begun. you're standing there on the top of the mountain. what goes through your mind? >> there's two mindsets, you know? there's the... there's the evel knievel, which is kind of kamikaze. and then, there's the james bond. >> cooper: which one are you? >> i'm bond. >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm anderson cooper.
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before it became a medicine, it was an idea. an inspiration. a wild "what-if." so scientists went to work. they examined 87 different protein structures. had 12 years of setbacks and breakthroughs, 4,423 sleepless nights, and countless trips back to the drawing board. at first they were told no, well... maybe, and finally: yes. then it was 36 clinical trials, 8,500 patient volunteers,
and the hope of millions. and so after it became a medicine, someone who couldn't be cured, could be. me. ♪ >> leslie stahl: the mass shooting at the nightclub in orlando a week ago today represents the latest of what has become a reoccurring nightmare in america. family and friends are mourning again. flags are at half-staff again. and once again, there are calls for gun control, which happens every time there is an incident like this. one proposal to address the violence, especially when it comes to the daily shootings on our streets and in our homes, is smart guns.
as we first reported in november, these are firearms that only work when they are fired by their owner. with "gee whiz" technology seeping into every corner of our lives, why not guns? in the 2012 movie "skyfall," "q" gives james bond a smart gun that only he can activate. >> q: it's been coded to your palm pint, so only you can fire it. >> stahl: later, when the bad guy gets a hold of it... >> james bond: good luck with that. >> stahl: firearms that recognize only their owner aren't just the stuff of movies. army veteran tom lynch is developing a touch-pad scanner that recognizes fingerprints, like an iphone. add it to an existing gun and it's a smart gun. so, it's recognizing you? there you go. >> tom lynch: it's recognizing me. >> stahl: okay. >> lynch: now.
>> stahl: now. >> lynch: it's unlocked. it's still on "fire." >> stahl: let me try it. let's see if i can... >> lynch: now pull the trigger. >> stahl: i can't even pull the trigger. oh. >> lynch: that's the point. >> stahl: it's locked. >> lynch: it's locked. >> stahl: other inventors are working on guns that recognize the squeeze of your grip, or unlock wirelessly if the shooter wears a watch or a ring. these guns would not have prevented many of the mass shootings because the gunmen owned the firearms, but smart gun advocates say they could counter this all-too-common grim reality... >> a 14-year-old boy accidentally shot and killed his nine-year-old brother. >> stahl: ...children shot and killed by other children. >> a tragic shooting-- two friends playing with a gun when it goes off. >> stahl: smart guns could curtail the number of suicides, and cut down on the resale of stolen guns, estimated to be 230,000 every year. what good is a gun no one but the owner can fire? >> shots fired in johnson city. we have an officer down. >> stahl: and they would help on-duty cops.
>> there was a struggle, and clark grabbed officer smith's gun and shot him two times. >> stahl: and yet, with at least a half-dozen smart guns in advanced development and some ready for manufacturing, no major u.s. gun company is making them, and no gun dealer is willing to sell them. why? well, consider what happened to one maryland gun dealer who tried. >> andy raymond i like the way sterling arsenal actually painted this thing. >> stahl: last year, andy raymond, co-owner of engage armament, announced that he'd sell the armatix ip1, a smart pistol made in germany. who did you think would be interested in that kind of a gun? >> raymond: typically, what i like to call "fence sitters," so people who aren't normally into guns and don't normally want one. you know, "i'm too afraid" or whatever. >> stahl: did you anticipate the reaction that you got? >> raymond: no. >> stahl: within minutes of his announcement, angry emails and phone calls started coming. >> raymond: we got about 2,000
phone calls and maybe about the same emails. >> stahl: all against? >> raymond: yeah, that was just in one day. i mean, it was insane. i mean, one person threatened to burn down the shop. another person threatened that i would be raped-- that was classic. >> stahl: you would be raped? >> raymond: yeah. >> stahl: did you get any death threats? >> raymond: yeah. the crazies did come out of the woodwork. >> stahl: that's him that night, shaved head and whiskey bottle at his side. he stayed in his store to guard it and posted this video on facebook. >> raymond: so anyway, obviously, i received numerous death threats today. i really ( bleep ) appreciate that. i think that's ( bleep ) classy. that's a great thing for gun rights when you threaten to shoot somebody. >> stahl: he thinks the campaign against him was viral, not organized by the gun lobby. though, in his rant, he wondered why gun lovers and the national rifle association would oppose the sale of any gun. >> raymond: how can the n.r.a. or people want to prohibit a gun when we're supposed to be pro gun? we're supposed to say that any gun is good, in the right person's hands.
how can they say that a gun should be prohibited? how hypocritical is that? if you believe in the second amendment, and the second amendment is absolute-- that the right of people to keep and bears arms shall not be infringed-- then you should be able to buy whatever you want. >> stahl: what andy didn't realize is that there's a long, beleaguered history to these devices. 15 years ago, gun maker smith and wesson promised the clinton white house to develop smart guns as part of a deal to fend off liability litigation. >> bill clinton: under the agreement, smith and wesson will develop smart guns that can be fired only by the adults who own them. >> stahl: the gun lobby organized a boycott against smith and wesson, seeing smart guns and other concessions in the deal as part of the gun control agenda. factories closed, employees were laid off, and after that, no big u.s. gun maker ever went near a smart gun. >> steve sanetti: there's a lot... lot of skepticism and a lot of resistance to them. >> stahl: steve sanetti, president of the gun lobby and
trade group the national shooting sports foundation, represents over 12,000 gun makers, dealers, and businesses. does your organization see the smart gun as gun control? >> sanetti: people that own guns are not the ones saying, "i'm the one that wants this. please develop it." it's coming from the gun control side. it's coming from people who, frankly, really want to put as many obstacles to a gun going off as they can. >> stahl: why are dealers who want to sell it, why are they being intimidated not to? why not let the market decide? people don't want it, don't buy it. >> sanetti: well, i agree. we think the market should be able to decide that. we have never fought the idea that dealers can put them on the shelves. it's totally up to the marketplace and the dealers. >> stahl: so where is that fight coming from? >> sanetti: that's the point. people don't understand the passion that firearms owners have for the firearms that they own. >> stahl: the passion has been fueled by the n.r.a., which says on its legislative web site, smart guns could open the door
to a ban on all other guns. why do they say that? well, it's actually happened. in 2002, new jersey's governor signed a law that became known as "the mandate." >> sanetti: there is a statute in the state of new jersey that would say that, once a gun like this is offered for sale anywhere, that's the only kind of gun that could be sold. >> stahl: if these guns are sold in wyoming or california, this triggers the law? >> sanetti: uh-huh. >> stahl: that everybody in new jersey has to have that. >> sanetti: right. >> stahl: loretta weinberg, the new jersey state senator who authored the law, didn't foresee its consequences. >> loretta weinberg: we passed that bill to help spur this technology. >> stahl: it appears it totally backfired because it spurred this passionate objection to the gun... >> weinberg: because of the intervention of the n.r.a. and the second amendment folks. >> stahl: ...that they say the reason they intervened is because of the mandate. >> weinberg: right. it isn't the law that's stopped the development. it is the people who threatened
folks who actually wanted to sell such a gun. >> stahl: andy raymond came to realize that, even if he had sold the armatix gun in maryland, it might've triggered the mandate, banning the sale of regular handguns in new jersey. >> raymond: the people of new jersey-- my apologies. you got nothing to worry about from me. i did apologize. i'm... i'm sorry. sorry to this day. >> stahl: did you actually sell any of the armatix guns? >> raymond: no. >> stahl: after his case came to her attention, the new jersey senator offered to rescind the mandate if the gun lobby publicly removed its opposition to smart guns. she's yet to hear back. >> weinberg: they seem to oppose almost everything. anytime we suggest anything, we've gotten very little cooperation back. >> stahl: if the law were completely repealed, do you think that the gun lobby would then let this go forward? >> weinberg: no. >> sanetti: why are you trying to take my firearm, which i
store safely and properly and i've never had problems with it, and add something to it that's going to make it more prone to failure? >> stahl: what about the argument that we have seat belts. we have air bags, they're mandatory. >> sanetti: uh-huh. >> stahl: why not make a safe gun mandatory? >> sanetti: firearms are safe. the firearms manufacturers include appropriate locking devices for their guns along with them when they're shipped. they may be low tech, but they work. >> stahl: he says adding high- tech to guns may make them less safe. for example, the batteries that operate the smart guns. >> sanetti: we've all had battery-operated devices where the battery dies. >> stahl: so the people who are working on this tell us that the batteries will have a ten-year life. >> sanetti: what about the 11th year? >> stahl: well, you change the battery. >> sanetti: if you remember, if... >> stahl: no, you're going to get a warning. >> sanetti: if the gun is stored inside a cabinet, or a box, or a safe or something like that, you might not see the warning. >> stahl: other concerns-- will fingerprints work in snow and rain? will they work if you're
sweating because an intruder entered your home? could guns using wireless technology be hacked, or jammed and disabled remotely by the government? >> sanetti: we have to be careful not to fall into the technology trap. it doesn't solve every problem. it's great. we're not luddites, we're not here saying that technology is a bad thing. technology obviously improves our life in many ways. but i think you have to look at firearms in a slightly different way. their mechanisms are the way they are over centuries of development. they're... they're at that state now that the consumers want them, and in the united states, there's a lot of tradition involved firearms. people like guns of the old west, they like them the way davie crockett used them, they like them the way they were used years ago. >> stahl: that was the case a decade and a half ago, as jonathan mossberg found out. he had left his family's gun making business, mossberg and sons, and invented a smart gun that works in conjunction with a ring. do i get... get my own, right? >> jonathan mossberg: yeah, you get your own ring. >> stahl: the ring has a tiny
computer chip inside a black stone which transmits a signal. when it's close to the trigger, it unlocks the gun. >> mossberg: alternatively, if i were to grab it, you know, nothing happens. >> stahl: mossberg's gun was ready to sell 13 years ago, but... >> mossberg: people weren't really... there was some market, but not enough, so we decided not to sell it. >> stahl: and has something changed? >> mossberg: yes. we all started living with these evil things, and so we became comfortable trusting it. they guide us to our destinations. they make sure we're okay for meetings, and they're extremely reliable. >> stahl: he thinks that today's young parents, comfortable with technology, are a ripe market. and silicon valley agrees. >> ron conway: this is going to happen outside the gun industry. why they aren't doing research and investing in this baffles me. >> stahl: ron conway, one of the early investors in facebook and google, is now looking for, he
says, the mark zuckerberg of guns. he has funded at least 15 smart gun inventors, including those involved in the two guns we tested. are you thinking that, if the gun manufacturers don't come along, that they're going to be like kodak? >> conway: absolutely. >> stahl: this is what you're saying. >> conway: yes-- kodak and polaroid all wrapped in one. you cannot stop innovation. and this is an area where innovation is taking over. >> stahl: are you not worried about the politics of this whole issue? >> conway: i think, for technology and innovation, we have to ignore politics. >> stahl: can you? >> conway: of course you can. >> stahl: but when it comes to guns, it's all about politics. just ask andy raymond. >> raymond: i got caught up in the middle of something that was way beyond me, way beyond my capabilities, and got caught between two sides that... i mean, it was just... i will never, ever, ever touch anything else like that ever, ever again.
>> stahl: as of today, you cannot find a smart gun to buy in the united states. senator loretta weinberg told us that she plans to ask the new jersey state legislature to repeal the mandate, but replace it with a demand that dealers display at least one smart gun in their stores. question is, will dealers be too gun-shy? if this gun does take off, would you sell it? >> raymond: absolutely not. >> stahl: ever? >> raymond: i would rather be shot by a smart gun than sell one. >> stahl: shortly after it was introduced, new jersey governor chris christie vetoed senator weinberg's new smart-gun bill. but president obama has announced a federal commitment to jumpstart the deployment of smart gun technology, involving the departments of justice, defense, and homeland security.
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my lineage was the vecchios and zuccolis. through ancestry, through dna i found out that i was only 16% italian. he was 34% eastern european. so i went onto ancestry, soon learned that one of our ancestors we thought was italian was eastern european. this is my ancestor who i didn't know about. he looks a little bit like me, yes. ancestry has many paths to discovering your story. get started for free at ancestry.com >> stahl: while investigators are trying to get to the bottom of what happened in orlando, there is still a significant gap in what the u.s. government will reveal about 9/11. the white house and intelligence
officials are in the final stages of reviewing one of the country's most sensitive and secret documents to determine whether it can be declassified and released to the public. as steve kroft first reported in april, the "28 pages" have to do with the possible existence of a saudi support network for some of the 9/11 hijackers while they were in the united states. for 13 years, the 28 pages have been locked away in a secret vault. only a small group of people have ever seen them. tonight, you will hear from some of the people who have read them and believe, along with the families of 9/11 victims, that they should be declassified. >> senator bob graham: i think it is implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn't speak english, most of whom had never been in the united states before, many of whom didn't have a high school education could've carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the united states.
>> steve kroft: and you believe that the 28 pages are crucial to this? understand... >> senator graham: i think they are a key part. >> kroft: former u.s. senator bob graham has been trying to get the 28 pages released since the day they were classified back in 2003, when he played a major role in the first government investigation into 9/11. >> senator graham: i remain deeply disturbed by the amount of material that has been censored from this report. >> kroft: at the time, graham was chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence. >> i call the joint inquiry to order. >> kroft: and co-chair of the bi-partisan joint congressional inquiry into intelligence failures surrounding the attacks. the joint inquiry reviewed 500,000 documents, interviewed hundreds of witnesses and produced an 838 page report, minus the final chapter which was blanked out, excised by the bush administration for reasons of national security. so this is your office. bob graham won't discuss the
classified information in the 28 pages. he will say only that they outline a network of people that he believes supported the hijackers while they were in the u.s. you believe that support came from saudi arabia? >> senator graham: substantially. >> kroft: and when we say, "the saudis," you mean the government, the-- >> senator graham: i mean- >> kroft: --rich people in the country? charities- >> senator graham: all of the above. >> kroft: graham and others believe the saudi role has been soft-pedaled to protect a delicate relationship with a complicated kingdom where the rulers, royalty, riches and religion are all deeply intertwined in its institutions. >> porter goss: i call this hearing to order. >> kroft: porter goss, who was graham's republican co-chairman on the house side of the joint inquiry, and later director of the c.i.a., also felt strongly that an uncensored version of the 28 pages should be included in the final report. the two men made their case to the f.b.i. and its then-director robert mueller in a face-to-face meeting.
>> goss: and they pushed back very hard on the 28 pages and they said, "no, that cannot be unclassified at this time." >> kroft: did you happen to ask the f.b.i. director why it was classified? >> goss: we did in a general way, and the answer was-- because, "we said so and it needs to ( laughs ) be classified." >> kroft: goss says he knew of no reason then and knows of no reason now why the pages need to be classified. they are locked away under the capital in guarded vaults called "sensitive compartmented information facilities"--or "skiffs" in government jargon. this is as close as we could get with our cameras: a highly restricted area where members of congress with the proper clearances can read the documents under close supervision. no note-taking allowed. >> tim roemer: it's all got to go up here, steve. >> kroft: tim roemer, a former democratic congressman and u.s. ambassador to india, has read the 28 pages multiple times. first as a member of the joint
inquiry, and later as a member of the blue ribbon 9/11 commission which picked up where congress' investigation left off. how hard is it to actually read these 28 pages? >> roemer: very hard. these are tough documents to get your eyes on. >> kroft: roemer and others who have actually read the 28 pages, describe them as a working draft similar to a grand jury or police report that includes provocative evidence. some verified, and some not, they lay out the possibility of official saudi assistance for two of the hijackers who settled in southern california. that information from the 28- pages was turned over to the 9/11 commission for further investigation. some of the questions raised were answered in the commission's final report. others were not. is there information in the 28 pages that, if they were declassified, would surprise people? >> roemer: sure, you're gonna be surprised by it. and you're gonna be surprised by some of the answers that are
sitting there today in the 9/11 commission report about what happened in san diego, and what happened in los angeles and what was the saudi involvement. >> kroft: much of that surprising information is buried in footnotes and appendices of the 9/11 report. part of the official public record, but most of it unknown to the general public. these are some, but not all of the facts: in january of 2000, the first of the hijackers landed in los angeles after attending an al qaeda summit in kuala lumpur, malaysia. the two saudi nationals, nawaf al hazmi and khalid al mihdhar, arrived with extremely limited language skills and no experience with western culture. yet, through an incredible series of circumstances, they managed to get everything they needed, from housing to flight lessons. >> roemer: l.a., san diego, that's really you know, the hornet's nest. that's really the one that i continue to think about almost
on a daily basis. >> kroft: during their first days in l.a., witnesses place the two future hijackers at the king fahd mosque in the company of fahad al-thumairy, a diplomat at the saudi consulate known to hold extremist views. later, 9/11 investigators would find him deceptive and suspicious and in 2003, he would be denied re-entry to the united states for having suspected ties to terrorist activity. >> roemer: this is a very interesting person in the whole 9/11 episode of who might've helped whom in los angeles and san diego, with two terrorists who didn't know their way around. >> kroft: phone records show that thumairy was also in regular contact with this man: omar al-bayoumi, a mysterious saudi who became the hijackers biggest benefactor. he was a ghost employee with a no-show job at a saudi aviation contractor outside los angeles while drawing a paycheck from the saudi government.
you believe bayoumi was a saudi agent? >> senator graham: yes, and-- >> kroft: what makes you believe that? >> senator graham: well, for one thing, he had been listed even before 9/11 in f.b.i. files as being a saudi agent. >> kroft: on the morning of february 1st, 2000, bayoumi went to the office of the saudi consulate where thumairy worked. he then proceeded to have lunch at a middle eastern restaurant on venice boulevard, where he later claimed he just happened to make the acquaintance of the two future hijackers. >> roemer: hazmi and mihdhar magically run into bayoumi in a restaurant that bayoumi claims is a coincidence and in one of the biggest cities in the united states. >> kroft: and he decides to befriend them. >> roemer: he decides to not only befriend them but then to help them move to san diego and get residence. >> kroft: in san diego, bayoumi found them a place to live in his own apartment complex, advanced them the security deposit and co-signed the lease. he even threw them a party and introduced them to other muslims
who would help the hijackers obtain government i.d.'s and enroll in english classes and flight schools. there's no evidence that bayoumi or thumairy knew what the future hijackers were up to, and it is possible that they were just trying to help fellow muslims. but the very day bayoumi welcomed the hijackers to san diego, there were four calls between his cell phone and the imam at a san diego mosque, anwar al aulaqi, a name that should sound familiar. >> anwar al-aulaqi: america cannot and will not win! >> kroft: the american-born aulaqi would be infamous a decade later, as al qaeda's chief propagandist and top operative in yemen until he was taken out by a c.i.a. drone. but in january 2001, a year after becoming the hijackers' spiritual advisor, he left san diego for falls church, virginia. months later, hazmi, mihdhar and three more hijackers would join him there. >> roemer: those are a lot of coincidences, and that's a lot of smoke.
is that enough to make you squirm and uncomfortable, and dig harder and declassify these 28 pages? absolutely. >> kroft: perhaps no one is more interested in reading the 28 pages than attorneys jim kreindler and sean carter, who represent family members of the 9/11 victims in their lawsuit against the kingdom. alleging that its' institutions provided money to al qaeda, knowing that it was waging war against the united states. >> jim kreindler: what we're doing in court is-is developing the story that has to come out. but it's been difficult for us because for many years, we weren't getting the kind of openness and cooperation. that we think our government owes to the american people particularly the-- the families of people who were murdered. >> kroft: the u.s. government has even backed the saudi position in court, that it can't be sued because it enjoys sovereign immunity. the 9/11 commission report says that saudi arabia has long been
considered the primary source of al-qaeda funding through its wealthy citizens and charities with significant government sponsorship. but the sentence that got the most attention when the report came out is this: attorney sean carter says it's the most carefully crafted line in the 911 commission report, and the most misunderstood. >> sean carter: when they say they found no evidence that senior saudi officials individually funded al qaeda, they conspicuously leave open the potential that they found evidence that people who were officials that they did not regard as senior officials had done so. that is the essence of the families' lawsuit. that elements of the government and lower level officials sympathetic to bin laden's cause helped al qaeda carry out the attacks and help sustain the al qaeda network. >> kroft: yet, for more than a decade, the kingdom has maintained that that one
sentence exonerated it of any responsibility for 911 regardless of what might be in the 28 pages. >> bob kerrey: it's not an exoneration. what we said-- we did not, with this report, exonerate the saudis. >> kroft: former u.s. senator bob kerrey is another of the ten-member 9/11 commission who has read the 28 pages and believes they should be declassified. he filed an affidavit in support of the 9/11 families' lawsuit. >> kerrey: you can't provide the money for terrorists and then say, "i don't have anything to do with what they're doing." >> kroft: do you believe that all of the leads that were developed in the 28 pages were answered in the 911 report? all the questions? >> kerrey: no, no. in general, the 911 commission did not get every single detail of the conspiracy. we didn't. we didn't have the time, we didn't have the resources. we certainly didn't pursue the entire line of inquiry in regard to saudi arabia. >> kroft: do you think all of these things in san diego can be explained as coincidence? >> john lehman: ( laughs ) i don't believe in coincidences. >> kroft: john lehman, who was
secretary of the navy in the reagan administration, says that he and the others make up a solid majority of former 9/11 commissioners who think the 28 pages should be made public. >> lehman: we're not a bunch of rubes that rode into washington for this commission. i mean, we, you know, we've seen fire and we've seen rain and the politics of national security. we all have dealt for our careers in highly classified and compartmentalized in every aspect of security. we know when something shouldn't be declassified. and the, this, those 28 pages in no way fall into that category. >> kroft: lehman has no doubt that some high saudi officials knew that assistance was being provided to al qaeda, but he doesn't think it was ever official policy. he also doesn't think that it absolves the saudis of responsibility. >> lehman: it was no accident that 15 of the 19 hijackers were saudis.
they all went to saudi schools. they learned from the time they were first able to go to school of this intolerant brand of islam. >> kroft: lehman is talking about wahhabism, the ultra- conservative, puritanical form of islam that is rooted here and permeates every facet of society. there is no separation of church and state. after oil, wahhabism is one of the kingdom's biggest exports. saudi clerics, entrusted with islam's holiest shrines, have immense power and billions of dollars to spread the faith. building mosques and religious schools all over the world that have become recruiting grounds for violent extremists. 9/11 commissioner john lehman says all of this comes across in the 28 pages. >> lehman: this is not going to be a smoking gun that is going to cause a huge furor. but it does give a very compact
illustration of the kinds of things that went on that-- that would really help the american people to understand why, what, how, how is it that these people are springing up all over the world to go to jihad? >> roemer: look, the saudis have even said they're for declassifying it. we should declassify it. is it sensitive, steve? might it involve opening a bit a can of worms, or some snakes crawling out of there? yes. but i think we need a relationship with the saudis. where both countries are working together to fight against terrorism. and that's not always been the case. >> stahl: when our report aired in april, the saudi government denounced the story as "myths and erroneous charges," while members of congress demanded that the 28 pages be made public. the official review by top intelligence officials-- which has been going on for two years- - is expected to be concluded before the end of this month.
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>> anderson cooper: the eiger in the swiss alps is one of the most forbidding mountains in the world. locals call it "the ogre." and for more than a century, this monster of a mountain has attracted thrill-seekers eager to risk their lives on its nearly vertical slopes. more than 60 climbers have frozen or fallen to their deaths. now, as we reported last fall, a new breed of daredevil is taking on the eiger, not by climbing up the mountain, but by plunging down it. when we heard that after years of planning a new kind of descent was about to be attempted, we went to switzerland to see firsthand something no one had ever tried before.
at 13,000 feet, the icy summit of the eiger is too steep and rocky to simply ski down... >> j.t. holmes: you ready? >> cooper: ...so j.t. holmes is training in three extreme sports to rocket down more of the eiger than anyone ever has. right now, he is practicing one of those sports, speed riding, on a nearby mountain slope with his friend and cameraman valentin delluc. to speed ride, j.t. is using skis, but he's also attached to a glider-like parachute called a speed wing. it allows him to soar over rocks and ledges impossible to ski. >> holmes: you're capable of transitioning in and out of flight at will. >> cooper: so you're both skiing, and then you're flying... and then you're skiing a little bit more. >> holmes: exactly. >> cooper: but speed riding will only take j.t. so far down the eiger. he'll also ski off a cliff, and
then free fall the rest of the way, all in one long, non-stop, breathtaking ride. >> holmes: three sports, one run. and they're my three favorite sports, so... >> cooper: these are the three things you love? >> holmes: yeah. these are three of the things that i love. >> cooper: j.t. needs perfect conditions for this dangerous descent, and so far, he hasn't been lucky. weather on the eiger is unpredictable. fierce winds whip the slopes and change direction dramatically. j.t. checks the eiger every day to see if he can finally head to the summit. the past two years, he's had to cancel plans because wind blew the snow off the top of the mountain. today, the conditions are not right? >> holmes: well, yeah, today you can't even see the top of the eiger. so, first of all, you couldn't land a helicopter up there. >> cooper: how long have you been planning this? >> holmes: you know, the first kind of thoughts of it were upwards of six years ago, but really focused on it for three.
>> cooper: why has it taken so long? >> holmes: you'd be putting your life, you know, in unnecessary risk. so i need the right day. >> cooper: j.t. is well aware of the risk. he started out as a professional skier-- the steeper the slope, the better. >> j.t. holmes: ready, set, go! >> cooper: now, at 35, he makes a living through endorsements and filming his remarkable feats. when we first met him six years ago in norway, he and his daredevil friends were pioneering the use of wingsuits, jumping off mountains and flying at more than 100 miles an hour. but in the last several years, a number of j.t.'s friends and acquaintances have died in wingsuit accidents. eiliv ruud, who was flying with j.t. in norway, was killed in 2012 when he struck a cliff and fell 1,000 feet. j.t. won't be wingsuit-flying off the eiger. the most dangerous part of his descent will be after he finishes speed riding when he
tries to jettison his skis and free fall down the rest of the mountain. to practice, he makes base jumps without skis off a tiny slippery piece of rock he calls "the mushroom." >> holmes: i stepped off the helicopter onto the mushroom, and that was fine. i had a good grip. but then i took another step and there was this really thin ice layer. it feels a little more uneven than i remember it. >> cooper: he's off. he falls for about 20 seconds, accelerating to 110 miles an hour before opening his parachute. he's starting right toward us. parachute is open. it's a white parachute, he's red. that was amazing. how was it? >> holmes: ( laughs ) scary. >> cooper: when j.t. jumps off the cliff on the eiger, he'll have his skis on. properly releasing them is critical. what's the danger if you can't get the skis off?
>> holmes: you're at risk of an unstable parachute deployment or a snag. >> cooper: so, the biggest danger is that the ski is going to get tangled up in the parachute. >> holmes: that's the risk. >> cooper: that risk is foremost in his mind because of what happened to his best friend, shane mcconkey. in 2007, j.t. and shane started skiing off mountains, dropping their skis, and then flying away in wingsuits. it was a dangerous combination they found thrilling. >> shane mcconkey: oh, yeah, another wingsuit ski base. here we go. >> cooper: but on this jump in italy in 2009, shane mcconkey's ski release mechanism jammed. he couldn't get his skis to come off. he crashed into the ground at high speed, and was killed instantly. that's how he died, his skis didn't come off? >> holmes: he couldn't get his skis off, struggled in his wingsuit, and... and crashed. >> cooper: when j.t. is training at the eiger, he wears a t-shirt with a funny picture of shane on it. >> holmes: this eiger descent...
>> cooper: without his old friend there to help him, he has turned to new friends. martin schurmann is an experienced swiss mountain guide. >> martin schurmann: it can change very quickly from good conditions to really nasty. >> cooper: it can turn bad very quickly? >> schurmann: oh, yeah. and then, you're in trouble. >> cooper: one wrong step, and you can plunge off... >> schurmann: you're... you're gone. >> cooper: martin and j.t. are cautious and methodical, making numerous trips up the eiger to plan, in advance, every part of the complex descent, particularly this spot where j.t. will jump, jettison his skis, and begin to free fall. you're standing there on the top of the mountain, what goes through your mind? >> holmes: there's two mindsets, you know? there's the... there's the evel knievel, which is kind of kamikaze, and "who knows how it's going to work out?" and "will you hit the landing ramp or not?" and then, there's the james bond. and bond is composed and dialed, and he uses clever pieces of gear which he developed with "q" to, you know, outwit his opponents and pull off
tremendous things, and... >> cooper: which one are you? >> holmes: i'm bond. ( laughs ) >> cooper: after days of waiting, and years of false starts and cancelled attempts, on this visit in april, the weather on the mountain suddenly clears. j.t. decides the time is right. he and his team take a chopper to the eiger summit. >> holmes: i'm checking for landmarks on the way up and kind of confirming my line, my path of descent. >> cooper: so you already have a path of descent in your mind? >> holmes: it's something that's been memorized. >> cooper: the eiger may be a monster of a mountain, but up close, the summit is shockingly small. here, there is no room for error, no room for the helicopter. it's not big enough for the helicopter to land? >> holmes: no, it... it does what we call a tow-in, where it just puts its nose into the eiger. and it just hovers there. >> cooper: how big is the... the area that you're standing on at the top? >> holmes: the... the top of the eiger is pretty small. it's... there is no flat spot. you know, workable space is...
three ping-pong tables. >> cooper: three ping-pong tables? >> holmes: yeah. >> cooper: that's it? >> holmes: something like that, yeah. >> cooper: a mistake here, one wrong step at 13,000 feet could cost them their lives. j.t. and his team work for almost an hour. wearing crampons on their ski boots, they dig trenches with ice axes so they won't fall down the nearly vertical slope. the surface is jagged ice, not powdery snow, and it can easily rip the speed wings. >> holmes: i don't like how those things grab the lines. >> cooper: they file down the sharp pieces of ice so they won't snag the speed wing lines. but the wind kicks up and they have to quickly reposition them. j.t. decides it's now or never. >> holmes: okay, you're good? >> valentin delluc: yeah. >> holmes: okay, three, two, one. go! >> cooper: j.t. launches off the summit. champion speed rider valentin delluc quickly follows, videotaping for us with a camera on his helmet.
the ride of a lifetime has begun. >> holmes: that's when you turn your skis downhill. now, doing that, that's very committing. because, you know, you point your skis down the eiger, you're probably not going to stop till the bottom. >> cooper: one way or the other. >> holmes: one way or the other. >> cooper: j.t. uses the speed wing for much of the descent, flying over outcroppings of rock and icy slopes too steep to ski. he reaches an open slope on the eiger's western flank and lands. he cuts loose his speed wing so it won't slow him down. now, he relies solely on his skis and skill. >> holmes: it's black diamond skiing. you're in a really cool place where few people have skied. really, what you're going to try to do is just gather as much speed as possible and just propel yourself off the cliff. >> cooper: the cliff he'll ski off is coming up fast. this is the most dangerous part
of j.t.'s descent. there is no stopping. he completes a double back flip to stabilize himself, releases his skis, then free falls. his nylon suit is aerodynamically designed, propelling him forward, so he doesn't crash into any rock ledges. he falls nearly 2,000 feet, finally opening his parachute... >> holmes: whoo-hoo! yeah! yeah, buddy! whoo-hoo! whoa! >> cooper: he drifts safely to the ground, landing more than a mile below the eiger summit. >> holmes: whoa, dude! whoa! oh, my god, that was pretty intense, man. nailed it. >> cooper: nailed it? >> holmes: nailed it. i don't have words to describe how it felt to go and pull that off after so much time.
and, you know, it's kind of a twisted style of having fun, but it was really fun. if you're too fast, it's a little just kind of scary. >> cooper: we assumed j.t. would call it a day after making it down the eiger in one piece. but after catching his breath and repacking his equipment, he decides to head back to the summit and do the whole run down the mountain once again. >> holmes: three, two, one, go! >> cooper: his speed ride off the summit goes perfectly. he flies over trouble spots, and builds up speed as he approaches the cliff edge. but when he tries to release his skis, one of them won't come off. this is what killed his best friend, shane mcconkey. j.t. struggles for several agonizing seconds, then finally manages to drop the ski.
it's a close call, but it doesn't seem to stop him from enjoying the rest of the ride. could you give it up? >> holmes: i believe that i could. because i don't feel that i'm-- you know, addicted to this sort of... type of thing, this adrenaline, or this sort of high-risk activity. >> cooper: you're not an adrenaline junkie, you don't think? >> holmes: absolutely not. i... i prefer "adrenaline enthusiast." ( laughter ) i truly believe that i don't have to do this. and i truly believe that i enjoy doing this and... >> cooper: that's pretty clear. >> holmes: the day will come when i tone it down significantly. >> cooper: but that day is not here yet? >> holmes: it's not today. >> how'd they get those pictures? go to 60minutesovertime.com.
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